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Women's Institute marks 100 years by planting 19 saplings on estate

A Women’s Institute (WI) has celebrated the 100th anniversary of its first meeting.

On Tuesday, members of Honington and Sapiston WI pulled on their wellies in preparation for a trip to the Euston Estate.

A large trailer arranged by Matthew Hawthorne, Euston Estate farm manager, pulled up to Sapiston village hall to transport the women on to the estate where they planted saplings along a footpath to commemorate 100 years of history.

Members of Sapiston and Honington Women's Institute at the Euston Estate.
Members of Sapiston and Honington Women's Institute at the Euston Estate.

Ahead of the event, Doreen Avenell, the group’s president, said: “There has been a WI in this village since 1919. It is not a centenary because the group was broken up during the war. We’re going up to the estate and being collected by a tractor and trailer then we’re going to plant 19 trees and have a little picnic. The estate is also lighting a fire for us.

“We are celebrating since the first meeting was held in November 1919.”

A bench, carved from a recently fallen oak tree, was also unveiled, with a plaque commemorating the event.

The women also organised a time capsule – which was buried near the planted trees – to be opened in 50 years time.

Items included a copy of the Bury Free Press, local magazines and minutes from meetings and other objects relative to the time.

The time capsule was put together last year when the group marked 100 years since the passing of the Representation of the People Act – thanks to the work of the Suffragettes – which gave some women the right to vote. The group also took part in an exhibition to celebrate this.

In a speech to the members when they arrived on the estate, Doreen said: “We are blessed with a fine day, how can any WI beat this?”

The group currently has 31 members and Doreen said it was always looking for more new people to join.

Josie Goddard is currently the longest serving member, having been in the institute for 70 years.

On Saturday, November 9, the group held a display, vintage tea and talk by local historian Edward Wortley, who also attended the celebration on Tuesday.

Valerie Norman, one of the members, said: “We decided to do this because one, it’s environmentally friendly and two, it’s quite a nice thing to celebrate – 100 years.”

A drone from the estate also captured an image of the dates 1919-2019 ploughed into a field on the estate, as well as taking photos of the group.